How Diverse are Companies in Asia in Terms of Gender?

IWD 2023: Which sector has the smallest representation of women?

Kate Lin 07.03.2023
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Female leadership is still difficult to come across in Asia. Only a few women, compared to their male counterparts, have made it to senior management roles. Data compiled by gender research institute, Equileap show that, in Hong Kong, women’s representation in top decision-making roles is less than 15%. In Singapore, the percentage is less than 30%.

HSBC Holdings (00005), Standard Chartered (02388) and Citi (C) have respectively appointed female chief executive officers for their Hong Kong businesses. Local lender Hang Seng Bank (00011) has named Diana Ferreira Cesar the group’s executive director and chief executive. Towards the end of 2022, Hong Kong’s securities regulator, Securities and Futures Commission has also named Julia Leung the first female to take the helm.

The gender research institute finds that the glass ceiling between the workforce and executive positions remains pervasive. In Hong Kong, while females represent 40% of the workforce, women representation on executive teams is only 17%, which falls below global average. Comparatively, women make up 28% at the executive level in Singapore. In particular, Singapore has high percentages of both female CEOs and CFOs, amounting to 11% and 29%.

Tech Sector Is the Least Gender Diverse

Using Morningstar Direct data, by sector, tech firms globally have a weak gender diversity profile at all levels. In the case of Hong Kong, one in ten board chairs is a woman while only 5% of managing executives are women. In Singapore, female in tech companies account for 6% of the executive headcounts while 15% of the board is directed by women.

The largest tech and internet companies in that region with a low gender diversity include Meituan (03690), Xiaomi Corp (01810), and Kuaishou Technology (01024), according to Morningstar Direct data. Baidu Inc (09888) has one female executive at the helm, who (according to the firm’s website) heads up the human resources and administrative departments.

On the flipside, data show that 95 healthcare firms listed in Hong Kong have a greater women’s representation at senior jobs, roughly 20% on average. Hangzhou Tigermed Consulting (03347), JD Health International (06618), Wuxi Apptec (02359), and BeiGene Ltd (06160) have a relatively more diverse board.

Hang Seng Bank Is a Diversity Leader

Apart from measuring executives and board members, gender research firm Equileap also scores companies on various metrics, such as gender pay gap, parental leave, flexible work options, and policies in dealing with workplace violence, abuse, sexual harassment, and more.

In terms of individual companies, the research report singles out Hang Sang Bank for achieving gender balance across all levels of its workforce. The bank is also the only company, regionally and globally, to have closed its gender pay gap at all company levels. According to Morningstar ratings, the narrow-moat bank also comes with a low ESG risk rating. Also rated with low ESG risk, the wide-moat Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing (00388) is another undervalued financial name with outstanding gender diversity performance.

Apart from financials, three mall operators and property investment companies made it to the top 10: Swire Properties (01972), Link Real Estate Investment Trust (00823), and Hysan Development (00014). Swire and Link REIT, which are under Morningstar’s equity research coverage, are trading at an attractively priced range of 37% and 20% discount to fair value, respectively.

Singapore Leaders Are in Real Estate

In Singapore, half of the top 10 comes from real estate sector. At the top, City Developments Limited (C09), which has a negligible ESG risk rating, stands out with its pay gap disclosure and paternity leave policy.

Developers Frasers Property (TQ5) and Singapore Land Group (U06), and Domestic REITs, such as retail-focused CapitaLand Integrated Commercial Trust (C38U) and Mapletree Industrial Trust (ME8U), are other firms with strong gender diversity policy and execution. They all warrant a low ESG risk rating by Morningstar. Other than real estates, investors can also eye two telecom providers in Singapore for gender diversity leader as Singapore Telecommunications (Z74) ranks second while StarHub (CC3) takes the seventh.

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Securities Mentioned in Article

Security NamePriceChange (%)Morningstar Rating
Baidu Inc94.80 HKD-1.10Rating
BeiGene Ltd Ordinary Shares90.40 HKD0.28
BOC Hong Kong Holdings Ltd24.55 HKD-1.60Rating
CapitaLand Integrated Commercial Trust1.93 SGD0.00Rating
Citigroup Inc61.93 USD-0.13Rating
City Developments Ltd5.64 SGD0.00
Frasers Property Ltd0.82 SGD0.00
Hang Seng Bank Ltd108.30 HKD-1.90Rating
Hangzhou Tigermed Consulting Co Ltd Class H32.00 HKD-2.88
HSBC Holdings PLC68.15 HKD-0.51Rating
Hysan Development Co Ltd12.22 HKD-0.65
JD Health International Inc26.95 HKD-1.10Rating
Kuaishou Technology Ordinary Shares - Class B55.60 HKD0.82Rating
Link Real Estate Investment Trust33.95 HKD-2.16Rating
Mapletree Industrial Trust2.28 SGD0.00Rating
Meituan Class B108.90 HKD-3.37Rating
Singapore Land Group Ltd1.86 SGD0.00
Singapore Telecommunications Ltd2.34 SGD0.00Rating
StarHub Ltd1.15 SGD0.00Rating
Swire Properties Ltd13.96 HKD-1.69Rating
Wuxi AppTec Co Ltd34.65 HKD-2.53
Xiaomi Corp Class B17.70 HKD-0.45Rating

About Author

Kate Lin

Kate Lin  is an Editor for Morningstar Asia, and is based in Hong Kong

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